SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Sophie Hannah is writing a mystery novel featuring Hercule Poirot, the Belgian sleuth created by the late Agatha Christie, HarperCollins Publishers announced.
The project, set for release in September 2014, has the blessing of Christie's estate.
"It was pure serendipity that led to Sophie Hannah being commissioned to write this book," Mathew Prichard, chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd., and a grandson of the iconic author, said in a statement. "Her agent happened to approach HarperCollins in exactly the same week that my colleagues and I started discussing a new Christie book. Her idea for a plot line was so compelling and her passion for my grandmother's work so strong, that we felt that the time was right for a new Christie to be written."
"It is almost impossible to put into words how honored I am to have been entrusted with this amazing project -- in fact, I still can't quite believe that this is really happening! I hope to create a puzzle that will confound and frustrate the incomparable Hercule Poirot for at least a good few chapters," Hannah said.
"This book is an important initiative for Acorn and RLJ Entertainment, and we are delighted to be working with a writer of Sophie's caliber and with HarperCollins," said Hilary Strong -- managing director of Acorn Productions Ltd., which manages the rights to Christie's estate. "The new novel is the first of a number of exciting initiatives we have planned to bring Christie's work to new audiences worldwide."
Christie introduced Poirot in "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," published in 1920. It has been 38 years since Christie's last novel, "Sleeping Murder," was published in 1976, and 39 years since "Poirot, Curtain."
Christie died in 1976 at age 85. Actor David Suchet has been playing the character of Poirot for several years in a series of TV movies, which are also available on DVD through Acorn.